President Obama has had a lot of varying stances on cannabis throughout his years as commander-in-chief. Some were optimistic that he would reschedule cannabis by the end of 2014 as he showed signs of ending prohibition earlier in the year, but that hope came and went without any resolution. Many have noticed that he’s been pretty quiet about a topic that’s been taking the country by storm over the last couple of years — save for a few interviews online.
Just this week, Obama sat down for an 18-minute interview with Vice News during his visit to Atlanta. During the conversation, he discussed a number of pertinent issues from ISIS to the controversial letter to Iran to his view on the consistent Republican backlash. He also addressed concerns regarding cannabis, specifically interviewer Shane Smith’s notion that marijuana legalization is the highest priority of internet readers.
“First of all, it shouldn’t be young people’s biggest priority,” Obama said. “Young people, I understand this is important to you. But you should be thinking about climate change, the economy, jobs, war and peace. Maybe, way at the bottom, you should be thinking about marijuana.”
His comment sheds some light on his lack of understanding of the intersection of issues and, more alarmingly, his failure to see cannabis as a potent, healing medicine that vastly improves the lives of many people of all ages. The idea that the younger generation’s attention towards legalization is somehow misplaced or an indication of irresponsibility lacks compassion on the President’s part.
Despite this shortfall, he does acknowledge that a move towards legalization would have a significant and positive impact in many ways — especially when it comes to the legal system.
“Our justice system is so heavily skewed towards cracking down on nonviolent drug offenders that it has not just had a terrible effect on many communities — particularly communities of color, rendering a lot of folks unemployable because they’ve got felony records, disproportionate prison sentences — it costs a huge amount of money to states.”
In an interview with Hank Green of the VlogBrothers earlier this year, Obama said that more states were likely to legalize cannabis and that his administration wouldn’t use their resources to turn back decisions being made at the local level. Although Obama hasn’t made any major moves to change the current federal status of cannabis, it’s likely that he will continue to make comments in loose but vague support of federal legalization.
What do you think about Obama’s interview? Share your thoughts in the comments.